Letters to the editor: December 30, 2014

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
Letters
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Defund UNRWA
Sir, – With regard to “Senator: Congress won’t let UN ‘take over’ peace process” (December 28), if Lindsey Graham becomes chair of the US Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs, he should be the person to finally stop US funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
This agency, which receives millions each year directly from the US, covering some 25 percent of its total funding, is not only complicit with Hamas in anti-Israel activities (storing weapons, employing Hamas members and teaching Palestinian children to hate Israelis), but provides a birth-to-death welfare system for Palestinians.
Since UNRWA has its own definition of “refugee” (which includes inheriting this status, something no others in the world are allowed to do according to the definition set down by the UN High Commission for Refugees), this only perpetuates the Israel- Arab conflict and the “refugee problem.”
From about 850,000 refugees in 1948, the number has swollen to some five million while in reality it now should stand at about 50,000. Therefore, US aid to UNRWA should be cut drastically or stopped altogether.
Instead of perpetuating an agency that was supposed to be a temporary arrangement, funding for UNRWA should be transferred to help the refugees of Syria, who are in a much more urgent plight.
YAAKOV BEN-MEIR 
Netanya
Investigate Herzog
Sir, – Reader Jan Sokolovsky (“Ethical suitability,” Letters, December 28) was right to remind those who need reminding of the illegal acts of Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog in 1999 when he was working to promote the election campaign of then-party leader Ehud Barak.
The activities of which Herzog stood accused, I believe, demonstrated that he was a man for whom the desired end justified any means, legal or otherwise. It is a sad reflection on our justice system that he succeeded in evading prosecution for illegal party funding by simply keeping silent.
Certainly, full clarification of his role in that scandal is in order.
To my way of thinking, what is even more important, however, is clarification of the sources of the money. The allegation that he appropriated it from a charity fund placed in his trust and of which he was executor reflect a much worse crime – one not only illegal, but unconscionable. Abrogation of trust and embezzlement of funds intended for charity reflect gross moral turpitude.
As I recall, the Jewish community in Canada, where the trust fund apparently originated, was unwilling to air its dirty laundry in public.
I now think it high time the community helped clarify the degree of perfidy this would-be national leader is capable of.
NETTA KOHN DORSHAV
Jerusalem

Agrees with Bennett
Sir, – With regard to “In search of an Israeli leader” (Comment & Features, December 25), only weeks ago, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon stated that there would never be a Palestinian state, only autonomy in designated regions, more or less in agreement with the position of Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett.
Suffice it to say a so-called “Palestinian” people does not exist, only Arabs of a like genre. Thus, there is neither juridical nor factual substance to support the founding of another Arab state on Jewish land.
The Balfour Declaration made eminently clear the right of Jews to settle anywhere west of the Jordan River. Moreover, the “Palestine” that “belongs” to Arabs never existed and does not exist now.
Whatever fault I might find regarding some positions of Bennett, I find none with regard to his position that there will never be a “Palestinian” state.

ARTHUR S. SAFIR
Warminster, Pennsylvania
The writer is a former deputy attorney-general of the state of New Jersey.
Absentee ballots
Sir, – In the run-up to elections here, the topic of absentee ballots inevitably comes up. Only those in the diplomatic corps or merchant marine can currently vote in advance of elections without being physically present.
In the past, political parties of all persuasions have vetoed the rights of Israelis traveling or working abroad to vote either in advance or at embassies or consulates. The arguments always centered on Israelis who have lived abroad for many years, as well as on the perception that Israelis who travel have a certain political view of one side or another.
Just as the advent of the Internet has prompted some parties to sign up members online, there must be a hi-tech solution that can filter out those who no longer live here or pay taxes, but allow people who planned travel at least three months prior to the announcement of early elections to vote in advance.
Why should these people, along with Israelis studying abroad or on sabbaticals, not be allowed a voice in voting for their future? SHLOMO LOSHINSKY
Ma’aleh Adumim


ISIS ‘schmisis’
Sir, – Regarding “Pope condemns Islamic State, decries suffering of children” (December 26), ISIS schmisis. Call it what you will – we’re dealing with insane religious fanatics who want to impose their lifestyle on the world. We simply cannot let that happen and need to use any means necessary to accomplish this.
This holiday season, we should give thanks for the freedoms we enjoy under our democratic ways of life.
HERB STARK
Mooresville, North Carolina
Not much difference
Sir, – With regard to “PM promises to ‘vigorously’ oppose PA moves at UN” (December 22), the United States, Israel and Palestine have all used declarations of independence to help get their states.
Israel used the UN. Now Palestine is doing the same.
All actions have been unilateralist.
Israel’s founders never negotiated with the Palestinians to obtain statehood.
As to other artificial arguments against Palestinian statehood, the world’s 150 decolonized nations never had to previously be states or have the cleanest, Western-style administrations. There were no such conditions because world decolonization was a gift owing not to the “white man’s burden” but to peoples’ inherent natural rights.
The question is, why should Palestine have to meet a higher bar than all other nations? Why the double standard? Usually, a state that says it wants to give another people its land back but lacks a partner to help does not at the same time try to nibble away ever more of this land or take it over entirely.
This raises grave doubts about sincerity and good faith.
Consider if, instead, Palestine occupied Israel and was advancing Palestinian settlers – three-quarters of a million and climbing – into Israel. Imagine how intense Israeli anger would be. Imagine, with the precedent of the Irgun’s resistance to Great Britain, what Israeli resistance would be. This might help explain occupied Palestine’s real-world anger and increasing Irgun-like resistance to Israeli occupation and domination.
Security for Israel and justice for Palestine would liberate both peoples of their unequal yet intolerable burdens.
JAMES ADLER
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Smart strategy
Sir, – The movie Interview has received an inordinate amount of press coverage. All of this has awakened a latent spirit of American patriotism expressed by large audiences attending the showing of the film.
Consider the following scenario: It is December and Sony is sitting on a $44 million debacle it is about to release. What better means to create a blockbuster success than staging and reacting to a cyber-terror attack and turning this mediocrity into a must-see film.
This would be reminiscent of making a book into a bestseller by having it banned in Boston.
SAMUEL DERSHOWITZ
Jerusalem